I am dependant. The truth is that none of us are independent. However, I am more dependant than most. This is one of the hardest parts of my illness to confront, in part because I grew up in an abusive household where any small need was a burden that was met with violence. I learned at a young age to hide and deny my human vulnerability and needs. I had to depend on myself for basic survival and also as a way out.
As a very ill person, independence is no longer possible. I can’t pretend at it, although god knows I still try. I need. I need, need, need, need, NEED. The depth of need and the vulnerability of my body’s inability in the face of basic survival is terrifying. I worry about my future constantly.
I tried to make myself hyper-independent to fight the helplessness of my childhood. It was the only way I could feel safe. Now, I need to learn how to feel safe within what is considered by current societal standards a fairly extreme dependence.
Everything you see me do now, right down to showing up in this space, is because my partner Davin takes care of me. He fills in the gaps of everyday survival so that I can rest and also so I can reserve some of the little energy I have available to do things that bring me joy like writing, tending plants, or making art. I have absolutely no doubt that I would be much sicker than I am if not for him. I would disappear, as many people with illnesses like this one do.
I try in my relationships to give back what I take, but the reality is that with chronic illness, I need and take a hell of a lot — much more than I ever wanted to ask for or felt I deserved.
It’s important for me now to challenge, both personally and publicly, the narrative of individualism and independence that permeates our culture. To challenge who is valued and what we deem valuable. To accept and even appreciate that we are all interdependent. My dependence isn’t a moral failing. Dependency is not always a bad word.
Part of this is being clear about the truth of my reality and how I live with a mysterious illness that may never be cured. Another part is acknowledging the people in my life who contribute to the needs of my daily existence and fight for me in small and big ways. This includes many of you. Thank you.